Fly Fishing Goals – Tie Flies like A.K. Best with 3 Tips

10 Mar

I got the book. I read the book.  I learned a lot.

The book which I am referring to is A. K. Best’s Advanced Fly Tying: The Proven Methods and Techniques of a Master Professional Fly Tyer.  Maybe I should have started with one of his other books, Production Fly Tying: A Collection of Ideas, Notions, Hints, and Variations on the Techniques of Fly Tying  or A. K. Best’s Fly Box – How to Tie the Master Fly-Tyer’s Patterns.  But I figure I was able to follow along and didn’t get lost anywhere along the way.

I loved this book. I read it on the bus, on my way to work, and more than once caught the person beside me reading along. Two people actually started up a conversation, although neither of them fly fish.

It is well written in very plain English. The book is probably one quarter story telling and validation for various methods or decisions A.K. uses in his tying, and three quarters fly recipes and step-by-step instruction.

The first nine chapters focus on tools, efficiency, materials and general methods.  The rest of the 21 chapters explain different fly types, with multiple variations on each theme, and a final chapter for the traveling tyer. The flies are mostly all dries, but the tips and tricks in the chapters apply to all types of flies from midges to bass flies.  The most interesting chapter for me was Necks or Saddles? as I love tying with necks, but I can’t refute the ease and efficiency of tying with saddle hackle.  The most helpful two chapters would be Saving Time and Tying Yourself out of Trouble, the tips contained in either of these chapters are worth the books purchase price in regained tying time.

The pictures are clear, simple and accompany the important steps. They are not all artsy, or striking, but they are clean and efficient.

Here are the top three things I learned from the book.

1. If the vise head is at 45 degrees from horizontal, or vertical (yeah I said it, just in case someone was going to ask…), then it allows your hand to present the materials to the hook in a much more natural fashion, your fingers are out of the way and the tying in is easier.  I do find it more automatic already, I am fumbling less with materials.

2. It is ok, and possibly desirable, to allow hackle to twist on the hook as you are wrapping it onto the hook. This was news to me.  A.K. uses a very specific wrapping method to flare the hackle both forward and backward on the fly and also prevents what he calls a hackle turbine.  He blames the hackle turbine for most of the tippet twist experienced by dry fly fishers. I can’t find any video on how he does it.  If you can find one, please share the bookmark in the comments section.

3. I learned that I am not a dry fly fisherman. This book has so many patterns and types of dries for different insects and water conditions, it made me really think about the flies I carry. First off, I have nothing as pretty as A.K.’s flies in my dry box, mine are all more generalists than true imitators.  But I think I feel a change coming on. I think some biot and quill bodies with hackle tip wings are going to be making an appearance at a stream near me.

If you want to get faster, and more efficient with your tying. Advanced Fly Tying is worth a read.


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